Wine. Food. Reviews. Recipes. Lap it up.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Treating corked wine with plastic wrap

Sooner or later, anyone who drinks wine regularly will run across some that is contaminated with 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole -- TCA, for short. In wine drinker's parlance, such a wine is "corked," since the compound is typically caused by a reaction between mold on the cork and a chlorine-based cleaning compound.

According to the wine industry, TCA contamination affects somewhere from three to seven percent of all wines. It's detectable to most people at five parts per trillion, and to some people at even less. TCA's effects range from a subtle muting of a wine's fruit to a strong musty odor more suited to a gym locker than a wine glass.

Unfortunately, many of the bottles ruined by TCA are long-anticipated wines finally opened for some special occasion. (I usually hear at least a few sad corked-bottle stories from Thanksgiving until just after New Year's Day.) A corked bottle of wine is always a disappointment -- even more so if you don't have a backup bottle on hand.

Usually, the best thing to do with a corked bottle is to return it to the store you bought it from. The store then has the option of returning it to the distributor, and the distributor to the winemaker. But if you want to see if you can salvage it instead, a recent story from the Los Angeles Times describes a method using a glass pitcher and plastic wrap.

Here's what you do: Wad up a square piece of polyethylene plastic wrap (e.g. Saran Wrap) and put it in the bottom of a pitcher. Slowly pour the wine over the plastic wrap, then gently slosh the wine around until all of it has been exposed to the polyethylene, which acts as a sponge for the TCA.

After five to ten minutes, try a sample of the wine to see if it's still corked. If it is, repeat the process. When the taint is gone, decant the wine into a clean container and savor the results.

I haven't actually tried this yet, and am hopeful that I don't have the opportunity any time soon. If you try this method (or already have), use the mail link on the left side of this page and let me know how it works.
M. Zane Grey, 8:02 AM